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Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on Roosevelt Row.
Roosevelt Row has seen a lot of action in recent years. It was once that cool, janky part of town known for First Fridays, art spaces and galleries, shows at The Modified, and a bar or two. Now, it’s more or less a dining hub, thanks to taco and barbecue joints, ale houses, and dinner spots. Here’s a quick guide on where to go when you find yourself in the Roosevelt Arts District, from coffee to something called the Moonlight Menu.
333 East Roosevelt Street
The patio at Jobot is Phoenix-famous. Most coffeehouses in town have a couple of tables outside or don’t have anywhere to sit outdoors at all, so when the weather is actually nice, there’s no coffeehouse more hauntable than Jobot. That’s not to mention the incomparable people-watching of those strolling Roosevelt Row. Its ample out-front seating also comes with high-quality coffee choices of course.
The Yam and Cheese, Money Shot, and an everything bagel with cream cheese wait to be devoured.
901 North First Street
Stoop Kid opened in the space formerly occupied by Commander Hamburger at The Churchill. The New York-style bagel and coffee shop is operated by Phoenix restaurateur and barista Steven McMillen, and accessed by a walk-up window. Recommended breakfast orders include the Money Shot, Yam and Cheese, and an everything bagel with schmear for good measure.
The Frenchy at Breakfast Bitch is all that.
222 East Portland Street
How’s this sound for brunch: Mimosas — make it a flight — with a lobster benedict (the Boujee Bitch), French toast-style croissants topped with fresh strawberries and cream cheese drizzle (the Frenchy), and chicken on a biscuit (Bitchin Chicken), all served well past noon on a packed patio blasting hip hop. Lovely? Then Breakfast Bitch is your place. Warning: The wait can be hours, but the people-watching never gets old. Plus, on weekends, you can wait things out around the corner at the boozy food-truck patio.
These Philly crack wings from Trapp Haus may leave you addicted.
Trapp Haus BBQ
511 East Roosevelt Street
This Roosevelt Row barbecue restaurant is a temple to originality. Murals and painted barbecue slang coat the walls. Aggressive flavors spring from meat. Proprietor Phil “the Grill” Johnson, who calls himself “the Jay-Z of barbecue,” attacks the process of seasoning with uncommon verve. Where many of the best metro Phoenix barbecue restaurants employ spices and sauces with restraint — with the goal of showcasing the meat’s nuances — Johnson dials up all flavors as highly as possible. A must-try at Trapp Haus BBQ? The Philly Crack wings.
620 East Roosevelt Street
Juan Cornejo and Juan Cornejo Jr. have been grilling some of metro Phoenix’s best Sonoran-style carne asada over mesquite charcoal. At Taco Boy’s, a multitude of meat options come as tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and vampiros. Just be sure to hit the impressive salsa and sides bar.
Hot Daisy Pizza
610 East Roosevelt Street, #145
Pastry chef Tammy Coe launched her restaurant, Hot Daisy Pizza, out of her existing Tammie Coe Cakes spot on Roosevelt Row. The new pizza spot offers traditional options like pepperoni pie, as well as some inventive ones like the Corny Baby-Elote Pie, either by-the-slice or by-the-pie.
501 East Roosevelt Street
Taco Chelo is an airy restaurant with a tailored menu of starters, tacos, veggies, and a slew of fun cocktails. It’s a collaboration between chef Suny Santana, artist Gennaro Garcia, and restaurateur Aaron Chamberlin. It’s home to some popular chicharrones, sprinkled with chimayo chile and accompanied by sides of lime, guacamole, and Cholula sauce. Other lunch items include tacos, salads, and quesadillas.
330 East Roosevelt Street
The Golden Margarita, a cavernous sports bar and restaurant on the ground floor of a block-long apartment complex at Roosevelt and Third streets, is found in the former Paz Cantina spot. Expect beers, burgers, wings, and jalapeño poppers.
Grab some street food, a drink, and a joystick.
Cobra Arcade Bar
801 North Second Street, #100
Cobra Arcade Bar features 40 vintage arcade games, 14 beers on tap, and several arcade-themed cocktails like Krazy Kong and the Garbage Pail Kid. Customers are allowed to bring in their own food, especially from the food trucks and carts set up outside late into the night. You can even order a pizza and have it delivered there whenever you want.
Lucky’s Indoor Outdoor
817 North Second Street
Lucky’s Indoor Outdoor is a space inspired by restaurateur Julian Wright’s favorite Portland haunt. It serves drinks and food, and offers indoor and outdoor seating (says so right in the name). A vintage camper has been converted into a bar and food trucks are often nearby.
Bartendress Kristen pours from one of six available brews (though eight more are in the works).
425 East Roosevelt Street
Megan Greenwood opened Greenwood Brewing (along with Greenwood Taproom) in the former Eye Lounge Gallery and Ben’s Bells space on RoRo to big applause. The brewery includes a bar area, courtyard and garden, and onsite brewery (and here’s a look). We recommend ordering the Essence Rosemary IPA.
Arizona Wilderness DTPHX
201 East Roosevelt Street
The Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. downtown Phoenix beer garden opened in early 2019 with the goal of being the living room of Roosevelt Row. Its biggest draw is the patio, covered with a sunshade and able to seat dozens of people while also being a bird-friendly beer garden. It’s also right against the street, so people watching can happen while sipping that Sonoran Prince or another fantastic beer, as well as Arizona wine and on-tap cocktails. There’s also food — upscale pub fare like burgers, salads, and those duck fat fries.
The Lost Leaf
914 North Fifth Street
This place can almost be considered an old haunt of Roosevelt Row (that’s a crack on all the new development). The folks behind The Lost Leaf are pretty sincere about their beer. The bohemian-style drinkery and gallery, housed in a vintage 1930s-era domicile, offers a selection of more than 100 different kinds of ales, lagers, stouts, and other intoxicating brews available by the bottle. If that isn’t enough to wet your whistle, the Lost Leaf also serves a host of wines, meads, and even sake, to boot.
Killer Whale Sex Club
922 North Sixth Street
At the dark, cold, and loud Killer Whale Sex Club, order The Hot Seat, a hibiscus-infused take on the bourbon cherry sour. Or try the Paper Plane, or the Pornstar Punch. Maybe the black-bunned Thai Fried Chicken Bun and Pork Belly Adobo Fried Rice. If you’re still not sure what to get, an incredibly helpful server is usually nearby.
Most meals (and drinks) best enjoyed on the patio at Carly’s Bistro.
128 East Roosevelt Street
Touting itself as Roosevelt Row’s favorite bistro, Carly’s is and has been a staple on this strip. With local artwork, twinkle-lit patio, and views of the city skyline, consider it your go-to third meal spot. The menu offers appetizers like creamy jalapeño artichoke dip and chicken, cheese, or chorizo quesadillas, plus soups, salads, sandwiches, and desserts. There’s also a list of rotating draft and bottled craft beer, wine, and beloved cocktails like the mojito and Carly’s Colada.
Angels Trumpet Ale House
810 North Second Street
This RoRo spot is known for three things — craft beer that can come from one of 31 taps, a breezy beer garden and patio section, and that food menu. We recommend the hot pretzel if you just want a snack. It’s a big golden-brown pretzel with a dusting of chunk salt. And Angels Trumpet being the alehouse that it is, it serves its hot pretzel with warm beer cheese made with nonE other than Four Peaks Sunbru Kolsch and spicy Dijon mustard.
Il Bosco Pizza
918 North Fifth Street
The second location of Scottsdale’s Il Bosco Pizza opened in a bungalow that was formerly home to Dvina Modern Fare. Menu items include seasonal roasted vegetables with burrata, as well as Caprese and Caesar salad. There are more than 16 pizza options (we recommend the Bella) and gluten-free crust is available. The patio is also something to behold.
Character Distinctive Dining
218 East Portland Street
The spot formerly occupied by Josephine now goes by Character Distinctive Dining, led by Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz Wine & Whiskey Bar and mixologist Richie Moe. Highly recommended dishes include the (Arizona-famous) Chopped Salad and the burrata and meatballs. For more drink, head for Alias, a dimly lit speakeasy a quick stroll behind Character.
Ice cream at Melt is served in to-go Chinese cartons and topped with a fortune cookie.
Melt Ice Cream Shop
333 East Roosevelt Street
Located in Jobot, this tiny ice cream shop sources its offerings from local producers. As such you can expect a pretty diverse selection at Melt that can include anything from Fruity Pebbles and lemongrass poppyseed to beer and pretzels and chocolate rose pistachio. What might be an even bigger draw is Melt’s unexpected ice cream presentation: Your scoop will come in a tiny Chinese to-go container with a fortune cookie perched on top.
A martini at Bliss.
Bliss / reBAR
901 North Fourth Street
Bliss Rebar is the ultimate late-night hangout. There’s liquor, a big airy patio, and the Moonlight Menu from 10 p.m. to midnight. There’s actual food like the Bliss Famous Mac and Cheese, burgers, sandwiches, and salads, plus quick snacks like chips and salsa, fried pickles, and those classic chicken tenders. Plus there’s a full bar, so you could just have some drinks. Last call for food is 11 p.m.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published on May 2, 2019. It was updated on March 18, 2021.
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